It won't be long, thank God, before the final act of “our long national nightmare," as Gerald Ford characterized the American Constitutional crisis caused by Richard Nixon being caught with his hand in the Democrats' cookie drawer.
In this case, of course, I refer to the quadrennial marathon of mendacity and mediocrity we refer to as presidential elections. Only a few very long days left before a largely dispirited America trudges wearily to the polls and selects two from Column B or two from Column B-minus. Column A, regrettably, is only intermittently (no pun intended) available.
We've endured the not-so-great debates, less policy discussions than snapping-turtle fights, in which the presidential and vice-presidential candidates squabbled savagely over how their opponents had flip-flopped on various mildly important issues (as though the ability to change one's mind disqualifies one for public office) while floating gentle platitudes and generalities toward things that actually matter: the deficit, the war in Afghanistan, the extra-judicial murder of Afghani and Pakistani civilians with drones. (“I agree with the president about drones,”) Mittens murmured.
The president he agrees with, by the way, is the same president who made noises about trying members of the Bush administration for, uhhhhh, waterboarding civilians. I'm willing to admit that waterboarding is no day at even the world's worst beach, but offered a choice between it and being taken off the board permanently as collateral damage in a drone attack, I'll line up for the bucket of water and the towel every time.
So: we're heading toward sixteen trillion in the hole. Not a real campaign issue. Getting pasted in the longest war of our history. Not a real campaign issue. Bill of Rights about half-shredded, thanks to Bush and the Patriot Act, abetted by the present administration. Not a campaign issue. Schools dumbed down to vocational level and about a quarter of our students failing to graduate anyway. Not a campaign issue (if you discount Obama saying to Romney, “You said we don't need more teachers” and Romney saying, “I did not.”) African-American and Hispanic kids (especially boys) failing to graduate at hair-raising rates. Not a campaign issue. Tech companies and others hiring foreign nationals because, despite the level of American unemployment, they can't find qualified American citizens. Not a campaign issue.
Hundreds of billions in TARP funds being “paid back” by banks who are borrowing from other government programs the funds they're using to pay the government back. It's like I take a dollar from your left pocket, tell you I owe you a dollar, and then take another dollar from your right pocket, give it back to you, and call us even. Not a real campaign issue.
Gay marriage? Now there's an issue Obama can sink his teeth into. (Never mind that the Supreme Court is about to rule on it and the president can't do a thing about it.) Self-deportation? Romney can knock that one out of the park. Getting the government out of our bedrooms and/or securing the borders? Not real campaign issues.
This is the election in which the political father of the ObamaCare model, former Massachusetts Governor Mittens, campaigned against his own program. This is the election in which the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan (who is, as someone once said of Nixon, “an old man's idea of a young man”) floated a deficit-killer budget with enormous increases in defense. This is the election in which the so-called “liberal media” ran headline stories about how much money Romney's campaign was raising but backed off the issue when Obama began to outraise him.
I have to tell you, there was something reassuring in old Nixon burglarizing the Democratic National Committee's offices. It suggested that there were actual differences between the two sides, that there was a genuine choice for voters. These days, when a campaign costs billions and billions of dollars and corporations are people, it seems like both candidates have their hands in the same pockets.
I'm voting for Obama, but I'm doing it one-handed because I'll be holding my nose. And I'll be SOOOOOOOOO glad when this is over and I can get back to “Honey Boo Boo.”